worked late last friday during the post-Christmas work week; came home around 7:15. went in the door, petted our domestic animals, kissed the wife as she prepared the evening's meal.
no more than a few moments later, what do we hear from the parking lot but the holiday sounds of "Help!" being shouted across the complex. assessing the situation from our window, i saw a mid-20s-ish couple running from the direction of our building towards the guard station at the front gate. shortly thereafter we went out on the balcony and, as the couple returned, asked the question with the known-in-advance answer: "is anything wrong?"
the reply was this : "there's someone in our apartment!" our neighbors across the hall had gone downstairs to see what was going on and help out so Grace had me call the cops and then sent me out as well, dual-armed with standard-issue suburban-hero pepper spray and 9-iron.
apparently the couple had both just returned home and, upon opening up their front door, immediately heard someone moving around in one of their rooms (hence the prudent and hasty relocation from the apartment to a more public area where they could call attention to the matter).
their apartment is on the first floor of our building, facing the the outside of the complex (which is bordered by a tall but not unscalable wrought-iron fence). the Breaker & Enterer had popped in one of the smaller bedroom windows to gain access to the place. by the time the militia was assembled Mr. B & E had had plenty of time to make his escape on foot, disappearing back to wherever he had come from. we looked around the area and didn't find anyone hiding underneath a car or anything. nobody, myself included, was volunteering to take a look inside the apartment.
i had just driven down our complex's street a few minutes earlier and saw no getaway car, so more than likely the perp lives right across the street; comforting.
after a few minutes of milling around and checking to make sure that i was holding the pepper spray correctly so that i didn't have one of those moments of painful comedy when trying to hose down a meth-addicted burglar, the cops pulled up. the female cop took the lead in going to the door while the male partner (who, while tall and fairly big, had a Harry Potter-esque face complete with glasses that said 'new recruit') brought up the rear with the police shotgun.
now, i realize that the situation was not "cool"; i.e. the violation of privacy and security, the possible loss of valuable goods, all in all not a good event for those affected.
but... there's something hardwired to the brain, or at least to one belonging to someone who's played Doom or any other serviceable first-person shooter, that when you hear someone ready a shotgun with the instantly-recognizable "chi-chit" of a shell being loaded in the chamber, one part of you will think "whoa...cool". it is unavoidable
long story short, the cops searched the now-personless apartment (fyi , at least in Houston it appears that the current phraseology for police before searching an area is "Police. Make Yourself Known") and found nothing.
we later learned from Officer Potter that there has been a rash of break-ins at our complex and another across the street.
our downstairs neighbors are getting out of their lease penalty-free although they're leaving without the laptop, iPod, or engagement ring that they once had.
Grace and i have been planning to look for a home this year; no better motivation to start i suppose.